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War is hard on families. And life on the home front can be difficult, too.
This is a fact that Lt. Col. Kristen Wyrick, M.D. ’03, and her husband, Col. Brian Wyrick (retired), are intimately acquainted with. Right after the birth of their first son, Kristen and Brian each received five-month tours of duty in Afghanistan. Brian left in 2007 and Kristen the year after.
“It was hard,” she says. “While one of us was deployed, the other was a full-time, active-duty, single working parent.”
Moving, whether to another state or to another country, is something that Wyrick has gotten used to over the last 15 years. It’s simply part of life for military personnel.
Wyrick’s military career began in medical school, when she received a health professions scholarship from the U.S. Air Force. She met Brian during one of her clinical rotations at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and, soon after getting married, the Wyricks started their life — and their military assignments — together. They began in Washington, D.C., moved to California, and were both deployed to Afghanistan. Then they moved to places Brian was sent on assignment: Arizona, Virginia, southwest Germany and South Carolina.
Since 2011, Wyrick has worked as a civilian family physician and has served in the Air Force Reserves while Brian stayed on active duty. The family’s year in Germany was particularly memorable; she worked as a family physician at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest U.S. military hospital in Europe.
“I took care of active duty, retirees and families. I loved serving families overseas,” says Wyrick. “And we got to do a lot of traveling, as a family, all over Europe.”
But the two Pacific Northwest natives — and self-described huge Husky and Seahawks fans — missed home wherever they went.
“In Germany, when we travelled to Bavaria or anywhere in the mountains, it would make us think of the Cascades,” says Wyrick.
Some of this partiality to the Northwest has rubbed off on the three Wyrick children. “When other kids ask them where they’re from, the oldest will say, ‘I was born in California, but I’m really from Seattle,” Wyrick says.
Today, Wyrick has completed 18 years with the military (including active duty and reserve); Brian just retired after 25 years with the military. They’re grateful for the opportunities provided by the U.S. Air Force and proud of their service, but they also wanted to settle down. Now, with their oldest child starting middle school, they’ve come back home to stay.
“It’s almost like you’re starting over at each new place you go,” says Wyrick. “So I’m excited to re-plant roots here, establish my practice and serve this community.”